oversight

Information on States' Lobbying Disclosure Requirements

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-05-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting  Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      General   Government   Division


      B-129874

      May 2, 1997

      The Honorable Carl Levin
      Ranking Minority Member
      Subcommittee on International Security,
       Proliferation and Federal Services
      Committee on Governmental Affairs
      United States Senate

      Subject: Information on States’Lobbving Disclosure Reauirements

      Dear Senator Levin

      This letter responds to the second and final part of your February 8, 1996,
      request for information on the reporting of lobbying expenditures. In June
      1996, we responded to the first part of your inquiry, which related to        .
      reporting direct and grassroots (i.e., indirect) lobbying expenditures to the
      Internal Revenue Service by tax-exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3)
      of the Jnternal Revenue Code.’ This letter discusses the extent to which
      states require the disclosure of direct or grassroots lobbying, and the
      expenditures for such lobbying. Specifically, we determined the number of
      states that (1) have lobbying disclosure laws covering direct lobbying, (2)
      have lobbying disclosure laws for grassroots lobbying, (3) require the
      reporting of either direct or grassroots lobbying expenditures, and (4) tabulate
      direct and/or grassroots lobbying expenditures from lobbying reports. We
      also totaled the reported lobbying expenditures for calendar year 1996.

      Direct lobbying involves either organizations or individual lobbyists
      communicating with government officials in an attempt to influence them
      without any effort to get the public involved. An example of direct lobbying
      is a lobbyist meeting with a legislator to seek support for or opposition to
      certain legislation. Generally, grassroots or indirect lobbying is a campaign by
      organizations or individual lobbyists intended to develop a point of view on a
      governmental issue among the general public. The campaign’s purpose is to
      generate public support or opposition in the hope that the public will directly




      ‘Lobbving Exnenses (GAO/GGD-96116R, June 19, 1996).
                                                 GAO/GGD-97-95R   States’ Lobbying   Disclosure

                              K/        C-fnP
                             JW          v wiy
 B-129874
 contact their respective legislators to voice their opinions. An example of grassroots
 lobbying is when an organization places an advertisement in the newspaper seeking
 citizen or “grassroots” support for or opposition to a particular legislative bill before
 the state legislature.

 To obtain information on states’reporting of lobbying expenditures, we sent a survey
 form to the state lobbying disclosure offices in the 50 states and the District of
 Columbia. We ident%ed these offices by using the Council on Governmental Ethics
 Laws (COGEL) 1996 Lobbying Update, which lists the disclosure offices and state
 lobbying officials. We surveyed 52 lobbying disclosure offices in the 50 states and the
 District of Columbia. Our survey participants totaled 52 because the state of Kentucky
 has two lobbying offices, one for the executive branch and one for the legislative
 branch.

  We did not independently verify the accuracy of information these offices provided.
  We relied on the information submitted by state lobbying officials. We did not review
  or interpret any state’s lobbying disclosure laws for our analysis. We did, however,
  discuss the information with state officials to co-     our understanding of the
  responses where we had questions. Our work was done by staff in our Dallas, Texas,
- regional office from February 1997 to April 1997 in accordance with generally
  accepted government auditing standards.

 We submitted a draft of this letter to the Executive Director of COGEL for review and
 comment. The Executive Director wrote that this letter was very informative and
 should prove useful.

  RESULTS

  All 50 states and the District of Columbia reported having lobbying disclosure laws as
  of April 1997. Twenty-two of the states reported having lobbying disclosure laws
  covering both direct and grassroots lobbying. These states are Alabama, Arkansas,
  California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota,
  Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island,
  Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

  The remaining 28 states and the District of Columbia, reported having lobbying
  disclosure laws only for direct lobbying. The states are Alaska, Arizona, Delaware,
  Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine,
  Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada,
  Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,
  Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

  Forty-six states and the District of Columbia reported that they require lobbyists to
  report their expenditures for either direct or grassroots lobbying activities on a yearly,
  quarterly, or monthly basis or at other times designated by the state. Tennessee, Utah,

  2                                                    GAO/GGD-97-95R   States   Lobbying   Disclosure
B-129874
Wisconsin, and Wyoming reported that they have no requirement for lobbyists to
report expenditures.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported that they tabulate lobbying
expenditures from lobbying disclosure reports filed by registered lobbyists listing
direct and/or grassroots lobbying expenditures. Of the 29 states and the District of
Columbia that reported that they tabulate lobbying expenditures, 13 states reported
that they combine direct and grassroots lobbying expenditures, 5 states reported that
they tabulate direct and grassroots lobbying expenditures separately, and 11 states and
the District of Columbia reported that they tabulate only direct lobbying expenditures.
Although we requested 1996 lobbying expenditure data, some states reported that the
expenditure data were not yet available. While we provide totals for convenience,
these are notably incomplete. The remaining 17 states that have a requirement for
reporting lobbying expenditures responded that they do not tabulate lobbying
expenditures.

Table 1 shows data from the 13 states. that tabulate and combine direct lobbying
expenditures with grassroots lobbying expenditures. Data for 1996 were not available
for four states.




3                                                 GAOIGGD-97-95R   States’ Lobbying   Disclosure
B-129874
Table 1: 1996 Combined Direct and Grassroots Lobbving Emenditures ReDorted by
States




“Data are for the first nine months (January - September) of 1996.
bData for 1996 for these states were not available.

Source: GAO analysis of data provided by state lobbying officials.




4                                                     GAO/GGD-97-95R   States’ Lobbying   Disclosure
B-129874
Table 2 shows data from five states that tabulate grassroots lobbying expenditures
separatelyfrom direct lobbying. Only partial data for 1996were available for two
states.
Table 2: 1996 Grassroots Lobbving Exnenditures Summarized Seoaratelv from Direct
Lobbving Exnenditures Reported bv States




“Data elements for 1996 for these states were not available.

Source: GAO analysis of data provided by state lobbying officials.


Table 3 shows data from the 11 states and the District of Columbia that tabulate only
direct lobbying expenditures. Data for 1996 were not available for six states.




                                                   GAO/GGD-97-95R   States’ Lobbying   Disclosure
B-129874
Table 3: 1996 Direct Lobbving Exnenditures Renorted bv States


                      State                    Direct lobbying   expenditures
                                                                                              a
     Arizona
                                                                                              a
     District of Columbia             I

                                                                                              a
     Indiana
     Kentucky                                                                      s,ooo,ooob
     Massachusetts                                                                27,276,896
     Maine                                                                         2,288,965
     Montana                                                                         704,959
                                                                                           a
     New Jersey
                                                                                              a
     Nevada
                                                                                              a
     Oklahoma
     South Carolina                                                                 9,765,965
     Total                                                                      $46,678,758


“Data for 1996 for these states were not available.

b The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission provided expenditure data. The
Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission expenditure data were not available.

Source: GAO analysis of data provided by state lobbying officials.



As agreed with your office, we plan no further distribution of this letter until 30 days
after its issuance, unless you publicly release its contents earlier. We will then send
copies to the Chairman of the Subcommittee, the Chairman and the Ranking Minority
Member of the full Committee, and the Secretary of the Senate. We will also make




 6                                                    GAO/GGD-97-95R      States’ Lobbying        Disclosure
B-129874
copies available to others upon request. Major contributors to this letter were Rita
Oliver and James Turkett of our Dallas Regional Office, and Terry Draver of our
headquarters office. If you have any questions, please call me on (202) 512-8676.

Sincerely yours,




L. Nye Stevens
Director
Federal Management
  and Workforce Issues




(410109)

7                                                  GAO/GGD-97-95RStates’Lobbying Disclosure
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